If you've ever traveled to the low country and visited Isle of Palms, you know exactly how majestic this land is. So when I discovered that this town would be hosting a 10k/5k along their scenic connector bridge, I cancelled every plan I had for this weekend to make sure I would be crossing that finish line. I woke up early this morning without a single butterfly in my stomach. And this is a pretty rare event for me, because I am always filled with nerves before any race. I think my flutter-free tummy was partly due to the fact that I had my running buddy madré with me and also because it was too busy growling like a mad dog. So I scarfed down a fig bar and banana, and we were out the door.
We landed on the island about 30 minutes before the race, plenty of time to battle the dreaded Porta Potti crowds and squeeze in a light warm-up jog. After sharing a few stretches and even more giggles, we made our way to the starting line and braced ourselves for a memorable run.
But just as we were anxiously watching our clocks and listening for the final countdown, I spotted my newfound Charleston running rival: the girl who barely beat me in the Turtle Trek 5k a few weeks ago. I mean, she doesn't exactly know we're rivals, and she probably has never even seen me before, considering I was lurking in her dust at the last race, but either way, I decided I was going to race this chica and take home the unspoken glory of beating her this time around.
Alright, 5-4-3-2-1, the horns went off and we sprinted down Palm Avenue for about 100 yards before we turned left onto the Isle of Palms Connector and were greeted with a daunting incline. Granted, this hill is no Cooper River Bridge climb, but it was enough to shake up my breathing a bit. As I finally reached it's peak, I gazed out over the breathtaking inter-coastal waterway and made the no-brainer decision to pump my brakes and really soak in this view. So I said farewell to my race goals of beating Ms. Speed Demon, and even got a lil touristy snapping some pics.
Once I coped with the fact that I wasn't going to take home a record time, I backed my pace down to about 7:45 and fell into my mojo. The breeze was blowing through my hair, the sun was breaking through the clouds, my tunes were perfectly matching my steps, and everything felt just right. This was one of those rare moments you feel as a runner, when you get goosebumps, not from the cold, but from the indescribable high you are experiencing. I think I was even rocking a goofy smile for about a mile.
Although this was one of those plain-jane course layouts that I hate (down and back), time flew by because I had so much beauty to gaze out at (and I'm not talking about the hunky bro trotting topless in front of me). And for that reason, this race takes the cake for Most Stunning Race of the year.
The last three miles didn't feel as speedy as the first, most likely because I was dreading that hill we tackled once before. But I managed to pick up my pace a bit and climbed that hill with more determination than the first time around. I knew the finish line would be right around the corner, so I started exhausting myself at the 5.7 mile mark.
Sure enough, I rounded the corner and the finish line was right there, staring back at me. I kicked it into high gear and sprinted my way across, soaking in all of the cheers and applause the crowd sent my way. 48:52. Sure, I felt a slight sting of disappointment that I didn't push myself for a better time, but you know what? Midway through the run, when the golden sun was beaming down on me, I had an epiphany. I decided that no matter how fast we ran or what place we finished in today, this race made us all winners. From the pro-runners to the mommas pushing their baby strollers, we all won, because we all decided to wake up early on a Saturday morning to run this beautiful bridge together.
Today's race was about celebration. It was about cherishing the beauty of our environment and honoring the incredible feats our bodies can achieve. And I witnessed proof of this, when I watched every single face that crossed the finish line immediately transform from looks of exhaustion to beaming smiles. I'm pretty sure we all left with a sense of achievement, some raging endorphins, and a complimentary cold beer served in an Isle of Palms koozie. Now if that isn't the best way to kick off your weekend, then I don't know what is.
13th place female // 1st place F25-29 // 53th place overall
48:52 finish time // 7:52 average pace